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A cocaine plantation in Colombia. Source: Wikimedia
A cocaine plantation in Colombia. Source: Wikimedia

Coca-growing in Colombia is at an all-time high

The government hopes that former FARC guerrillas will persuade villagers to switch crops, as rreported in The Economist.

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Colombia’s estimated cocaine output went up to 37% since 2015 to an all-time high of 710 tonnes in 2016, as reported in The Economist this week. Some 188,000 hectares of land is now planted with coca, up from a low of 78,000 in 2012.

One reason for the rise seems to be a short time effect of last November peace deal between the government and the FARC rebel group. It was supposed to reduce coca cultivation; the FARC had extorted a tax on coca crops and trafficked cocaine, and under the peace deal it is to support the government’s eradication efforts. But the deal’s terms were years in the crafting, and many of its provisions were clear well in advance—including that there would be payments for coca-farmers who shifted to different crops. The government created a perverse incentive to plant more.

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And as the peace talks progressed, the government scaled back aerial crop-spraying, a very criticized measure. 

Now Colombia’s government is putting its faith in crop-substitution. But convincing the farmers is not easy.

As reported in The Economist.

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